A multi-car wreck on the final lap of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Camping World 500 aided Jamie McMurray in taking the checkered flag at the Talladega Superspeedway event on Sunday, with Dale Earnhardt Jr and Rick Stenhouse Jr taking second and third places respectively. When rookie Austin Dillon lost control of his car on the final lap of the race, the resulting crash ruled out any chance of Earnhardt challenging McMurray’s position, allowing him to cross the finish line in first place for the first time in a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race since 2010 when he won the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Dillon had been running third behind McMurray and Earnhardt when he crashed, with the only other driver involved being Casey Mears.
One of the highlights of Jamie McMurray’s career was his first place spot in the 2002 UAW-GM Quality 500 – a race in which he led 96 of the final 100 laps and beat Bobby Labonte. He was a substitute driver for the event and it was his second Cup start. In 2010, he became one of only three drivers to have won both the Brickyard 400 and Daytona 500 in the same year. In 2003 McMurray focused on the Sprint Cup Series and won Rookie of the Year having had five top-5 finishes and finished 13th overall for the year.
McMurray has been driving the #1 Chevrolet for Earnhardt Ganassi Racing since 2010 – the year he won the Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400. In 2011 McMurray earned four top 10s and finished the season in the 27th spot in points, while the 2012 season saw him earn only three top tens. 2013 started off on a disappointing note as he crashed on lap 33 of the Daytona 500, finishing in 32nd place. His first top ten of the season was at Bristol, with his second being in Martinsville. He finished as runner-up to Matt Kenseth at Kentucky and took 11th place at New Hampshire. Although not part of the Chase, McMurray’s victory on Sunday reaffirms his skill as a NASCAR Sprint Cup driver.
The current Top Ten in the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings (in order) are: Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Greg Biffle, Clint Bowyer, Kurt Busch and Carl Edwards.
Who’s behind this alleged conspiracy?
Who was behind the alleged manipulation of this weekend’s race Saturday night at Richmond International Speedway? The speculation has grown rampant online and on all social media platforms. Who was the the man on the grassy knoll who decided to pull the trigger and cause such mayhem to our sport?
Was this the brain child of Brian Pattie, the Crew Chief of Clint Bowyers #15 car? We know he was on the radio telling Clint to “itch” his arm. Were Clint Bowyer and Brian Pattie secretly laying in wait since Phoenix for their chance to finally retaliate against Jeff Gordon? I honestly do not believe they had this plan the whole time but it appears it may have been the icing on the cake all while helping a teammate make the Chase. What better reason to pit in the last three laps and fall back behind Joey Logano so he could take 10th place, removing Gordon, all while pushing teammate Martin Truex Jr. into the wild card spot.
How about Clint Bowyer, the fun and sarcastic friendly teammate of Truex Jr. and Brian Vickers? I doubt this was Clint’s plan but he was certainly played the biggest role. After being told to “itch” his arm, Bowyer’s car suddenly spins on track, and causes what may become one of the most unforgettable and penalty laced cautions in NASCAR history.
Maybe Ty Norris, the General Manager for Michael Waltrip Racing, was the alleged Mastermind behind this whole debacle? Jenna Fryer and the Associated Press reviewed radio communications between Norris and driver of the #55 car Brian Vickers, teammate of Marting Truex Jr. The AP reported the following was said; “We’re probably going to pit here on green,” Norris says. “Are you talking to me?” a surprised Vickers asks. Vickers continued to question the call, at one point asking, “I don’t understand, pit right now?” “You’ve got to pit this time. We need that 1 point,” Norris replies. “10-4. Do I got a tire going down?” Vickers asked. Obviously Norris knew something needed to be done to change to order of things. After the pit when Vickers questions if anything was wrong with his tire, Norris just tells him he owes him a kiss. Lucky Brian Vickers, the newest driver to the MWR team, is now undoubtedly wrapped up into this and is certainly a part of it, not that I think any of this was his idea.
Martin Truex Jr. seemed to have the most to gain from this whole situation. He earned a spot in the coveted Chase for the Spint Cup Championship, which means millions of dollars for his team and the potential to be the next Sprint Cup Champion. Truex was running his race hard and was almost there, but it seems a little push from his team is what inevitably got him there. Truex Jr. certainly did not do anything illegal during the race, but what consequences does he now face if his team helped him get there?
Or was it the man himself, was it the wizard, Michael Watrip? Could it be that that one of NASCAR’s most celebrated faces from a legendary NASCAR family could be behind all of this? What if Mikey was behind the whole thing, he was been unusually quiet since the end of the race, considering the pride he must feel being an owner with two of his cars in the Chase. It is an impressive feat for any organization, especially a newer younger group who has risen so quickly.
Well NASCAR has come to the conclusion of their investigation, and they certainly did things much faster than the Warren Commission, but will fans be satisfied they did things right? It seems GM Ty Norris is the Mastermind after all. He was even thrown under the bus by MWR team owner Michael Waltrip in a tweet, with Michael stating, “This wasn’t a master plan or about a spin. It’s about a split-second decision made by Ty to try to help a teammate. I stand by my people.”
Well okay, I guess that takes care of that and Michael is ready to forget this ordeal and let Norris hang out there with the most lengthy penalty, an indefinite suspension by NASCAR. NASCAR President Mike Helton spoke at length regarding the penalties facing MWR which included; a $300,000 fine to MWR, loss of 50 points each levied against Martin Truex Jr., Clint Bowyer, and Brian Vickers, and placing all three crew chiefs on probation until 12/31/2013.
Martin Truex Jr. seems to be the biggest loser though, with his 50 point penalty now bouncing him out of the Chase, and putting Ryan Newman in the Chase. Truex appeared to be the only person in this whole investigation who did not even do anything wrong, but he must pay the price for his team’s behavior according to NASCAR.
“Based upon our review of Saturday night’s race at Richmond, it is our determination that the MWR organization attempted to manipulate the outcome of the race. As the sport’s sanctioning body, it is our responsibility to ensure there is a fair and level playing field for all of our competitors and this action today reflects our commitment to that.” NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton.
I agree with Mike Helton on many points, especially when he said this is supposed to be fun, and we will move on. I know we will continue to debate if this was enough, or why Jeff Gordon was’t put back in the Chase, but at some point we do need to close this and move forward with the Chase. I do feel Michael Waltrip himself has walked out of this smelling like a rose for all that has happened, shocked he let Ty Norris take the fall for him and his organization, disappointed he did not take the reigns of a leader.
Article submitted by Mike Sanford – twitter: @msanford146